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Jan. 9, 2024Washington |  By: Ariana Figueroa - Missouri Independent

White House unveils $1 billion for electric and low-emission school buses

school bus

By Ariana Figueroa - Missouri Independent

WASHINGTON — The Biden administration announced Monday $1 billion in funding for more than 2,700 electric and low-emission school buses across 37 states.

This is a second part of funding of a $5 billion, five-year initiative from the bipartisan infrastructure law. In total, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean School Bus Program has awarded nearly $2 billion and funded approximately 5,000 electric and low-emission school buses nationwide.

On a call with reporters, EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan said that many school buses “rely on internal combustion engines that emit toxic pollution in to the air.”

“Not only are these pollutants harmful to the environment, but they can also be harmful to the health and well-being of every student, every bus driver and every resident in surrounding communities,” he continued.

Out of the 2,737 school buses, 95% will be electric, the White House said. There are roughly half a million school buses across the U.S. used by public schools. A recent Office of Inspector General’s report found that EPA’s Clean Bus Program could be delayed by local utility companies trying to meet demand for electric school buses.

The report found that because “EPA’s 2022 rebate application did not require applicants to coordinate with their utility companies before applying for rebates … the Agency may be unable to effectively manage and achieve the program mission unless utility companies can meet increasing power supply demands for electric school buses.”

In response to that report, Regan said that he is in contact with electric utilities across the country and “they’re excited about (electric vehicles) period, whether it be school buses, whether it be transit or whether it be cars and trucks.”

“I have no doubt that our electricity system can handle this transition,” he said.

Regan said that low-income public school districts and tribal communities make up about 86% of the projects selected to receive funding. Some of those funding mechanisms include grants, rebates and contracts.

States that were given multiple awards for clean energy school buses include Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon and Washington state, among others.